Break the Cycle of Poverty—With Tax Preparation

By United Way of King County, on December 12, 2018 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Volunteering

Few people enjoy tax time. Tax preparation season is a dreaded enemy for so many who struggle financially.

At United Way, we turn tax preparation into an ally. Extra dollars from a refund can put so many people on a path out of poverty.

Background: It’s getting harder and harder to stay financially afloat in the Seattle area. Seattle. Is. Expensive. Hardworking individuals and families in our community struggle to find stability and avoid homelessness. And they’re being priced out of the area.

Where do taxes fit in? Without the know-how or money for professional tax services, it can be difficult to decode your W-2—much less figure out if you’re eligible for any tax credits or other calculations on your tax return.

Our Free Tax Preparation Campaign is a tool we use to break the cycle of poverty and get everyone on solid ground. It helps people keep more of the money they earn. They can get an accurate tax refund, take care of their families, keep a roof overhead and save for the future.

Homelessness In Sight – With rent swallowing about 42% of people’s income each month, homelessness isn’t far-fetched. See how we’re getting people back into housing quickly and getting them the tools to stay there.

How Free Tax Preparation Works

From January through April, our Free Tax Prep Campaign provides free, walk-in tax services at libraries, community centers and other public sites across King County. It’s run by trained volunteers who offer help in 50 languages. Plus it all happens during hours that are convenient for working families. Anyone making less than $66,000 per year may be eligible.

Each volunteer shift I did, I felt how much these services are needed, even more than taxes—they gave hope to people that they have a community where they can ask for help and not be shunned.” —2017 tax volunteer

Last year’s fantastic results:

  • 1,025 volunteers helped file 23,200 tax returns.
  • $31.6 million in refunds. 
  • $9.8 million from leveraging the Earned Income Tax Credit, the nation’s strongest anti-poverty tool.
  • 3,500 referrals to other financial resources accessible through some of our partner agencies. We’re effectively wrapping these families in financial knowledge so they can stay stable once they’re out the door.
[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”14″ align=”left”]”The big thing always is that you are helping people and families in your community. Tax refunds are a big part of the income for many such families, and I like to think that in some small way we are helping with their financial independence and alleviating homelessness and similar challenges.”—2017 tax volunteer[/mk_blockquote]

Your Chance To Fight Poverty

We need your friendly smile and helpful demeanor! Check out and join one of our two volunteer roles.

We’ll train you and you’ll be fighting poverty in no time. Let’s break the cycle of poverty with tax preparation. Let’s build a community where families are financially stable.

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